Recently read books

The Way of All Flesh by Ambrose Parry – This is a deliciously atmospheric book set in historical Edinburgh 1847. A medical crime fiction mystery written by husband and wife authors Chris Brookmyre and Marisa Haetzman. Loved the mystery and reading about Victorian Edinburgh. The sequel The Art of Dying is even better.

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson – Very addictive and immersive. Contemporary YA murder mystery. Our protagonist Pippa Fitz-Amobi chooses a closed case to research for her end of year project. It’s an open and shut case for the polie and town and it was closed five years ago. A girl murdered by her boyfriend who then killed himself before the police could arrest him. Pippa is not convinced and goes about finding the truth.

Conviction by Denise Mina – A true-crime podcast sets a housewife’s present life on a collision course with her secret past. What motivated me to read this one was the fact that it was set in Scotland. Anna is an ordinary wife, mum and a podcast junkie. One day her husband leaves her for her best friend and takes the kids along with him. Feeling miserable, she starts listening to the podcast “Death and the Dana” – a true crime podcast discussing the case of a man and his family who all died on the sunken yacht in Bay of Biscay. This is a different type of murder mystery thriller.

Unfollow me by Charlotte Duckworth – Violet Young is a hugely popular journalist-turned-mummy-vlogger, with three young children, a successful husband and a million subscribers on YouTube who tune in daily to watch her everyday life unfold. Until the day she’s no longer there. But one day she disappears from the online world – her entire social media presence deleted overnight, with no explanation. Has she simply decided that baring her life to all online is no longer a good idea, or has something more sinister happened to her? This was a brilliant read for me. Very relevant in today’s world of social media obsession. The mystery unfolds from the perspectives of her most avid fans who want to find out the truth.

Day 5: Books I’m currently reading

Netgalley has been a great find. It has been my main source of books for the past couple of years. I intend to review more books this year and so I’m trying to keep a record of the ones I read. Books I am reading currently:

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

cover55721-mediumIn love we find out who we want to be.
In war we find out who we are.

FRANCE, 1939

In the quiet village of Carriveau, Vianne Mauriac says goodbye to her husband, Antoine, as he heads for the Front. She doesn’t believe that the Nazis will invade France… but invade they do, in droves of marching soldiers, in caravans of trucks and tanks, in planes that fill the skies and drop bombs upon the innocent. When a German captain requisitions Vianne’s home, she and her daughter must live with the enemy or lose everything. Without food or money or hope, as danger escalates all around them, she is forced to make one impossible choice after another to keep her family alive.

Vianne’s sister, Isabelle, is a rebellious eighteen-year-old girl, searching for purpose with all the reckless passion of youth. While thousands of Parisians march into the unknown terrors of war, she meets Gäetan, a partisan who believes the French can fight the Nazis from within France, and she falls in love as only the young can… completely. But when he betrays her, Isabelle joins the Resistance and never looks back, risking her life time and again to save others.

With courage, grace and powerful insight, bestselling author Kristin Hannah captures the epic panorama of WWII and illuminates an intimate part of history seldom seen: the women’s war. The Nightingale tells the stories of two sisters, separated by years and experience, by ideals, passion and circumstance, each embarking on her own dangerous path toward survival, love, and freedom in German-occupied, war-torn France–a heartbreakingly beautiful novel that celebrates the resilience of the human spirit and the durability of women. It is a novel for everyone, a novel for a lifetime.

Curtain Call by Anthony Quinn

cover52192-mediumOn a sultry afternoon in the summer of 1936 a woman accidentally interrupts an attempted murder in a London hotel room. Nina Land, a West End actress, faces a dilemma: she’s not supposed to be at the hotel in the first place, and certainly not with a married man. But once it becomes apparent that she may have seen the face of the man the newspapers have dubbed ‘the Tie-Pin Killer’ she realises that another woman’s life could be at stake.

Jimmy Erskine is the raffish doyen of theatre critics who fears that his star is fading: age and drink are catching up with him, and in his late-night escapades with young men he walks a tightrope that may snap at any moment. He has depended for years on his loyal and longsuffering secretary Tom, who has a secret of his own to protect. Tom’s chance encounter with Madeleine Farewell, a lost young woman haunted by premonitions of catastrophe, closes the circle: it was Madeleine who narrowly escaped the killer’s stranglehold that afternoon, and now walks the streets in terror of his finding her again.

Curtain Call is a comedy of manners, and a tragedy of mistaken intentions. From the glittering murk of Soho’s demi-monde to the grease paint and ghost-lights of theatreland, the story plunges on through smoky clubrooms, tawdry hotels and drag balls towards a denouement in which two women are stalked by the same killer. As bracing as a cold Martini and as bright as a new tie-pin, it is at once a deeply poignant love story, a murder mystery and an irresistible portrait of a society dancing towards the abyss.

Puzzle time and some reading

Kiddo’s puzzles…all containing Thomas and his friends. 🙂

In other news: Am currently reading Faceless Killers by Swedish author Henning Mankell…the Kurt Wallander series.  The series are famous and the book has won Glass Key award given to crime writers in Nordic countries.

I picked it up as I was excited to read a new author and mystery based in Sweden. Something new, something exciting. The premise is interesting but am having a hard time finding the motivation to keep reading because am halfway through the book and nothing is happening. After reading a couple of pages, am turning to another book just to pep up.

Perhaps it’s the kind of book that takes up speed in the later half. Am not sure. So far I am not hooked.

Has anybody read it? What do you think?

Musings from the past week

I can now officially crib since next year I will be on the wrong side of 30! Dear god! I can still remember details about my school and college life but after that it is all in fast forward mode. I already feel like an old maid. 😦

Before I begin my sulking, never imagined I would be celebrating 2 consecutive birthdays outside India – in a beautiful city like Edinburgh. When in school, I always hated it that my birthday fell during the monsoon season and it most definitely rained on that day. Here however, I am really enjoying this summer and sunshine.

This year I have also been able to get a lot of reading done. Thanks to the libraries here which have a huge collection. Back in India I was never able to continue with any library due to the frenzied lifestyle and lack of me-time. The books that I had purchased are still lying in a bag in some cupboard. Here I am enjoying the old world charm of going to a library, browsing through the books and reading them at leisure. Life is so spaced out here. I can take my kiddo with me. He plays with the toys in the kids corner section while I browse and issue books. It has such a laid back feeling to it which I enjoy. I have really come to savor these moments as I know I cannot do this back home.

August month here has a lot to offer with the school vacations and summer and it is truly the Festival month of Edinburgh. It’s filled with a diverse range of activities, shows, performances, arts, etc for all kinds of audiences. The Edinburgh International Book Festival starts this weekend and I am determined to take the kiddo for book reading sessions and other activities. The website is not operating but I shall note down the details about our visits.

The kiddo meanwhile is at his naughtiest best – more demanding, more stubborn and troublesome with a mischievous smile to cover it all. The foods that he dislikes are promptly pushed on the floor from the dining table – (the carpet in our case 😦 ). Most of the time, after a meal or snack, hubby or I are on the floor cleaning up after his royal highness is done with the food. The juice is spilled over a wider area in the kitchen after which he will solemnly ask for the cleaning sponge cloths – he is amazed at the speed with which these cloths absorb the liquid and hence wants to watch it over and over again.

He has also learnt the art of communicating with his toys – the doggy is placed facing the window and is compulsorily made to watch the fountain in the garden and whether the water is on. The open-mouthed dinosaurs are now given lunches and dinners and are fed with rice daily – they are not turning chubby. The kiddo’s blanket is placed on the Teddy Bear – he is told to go to sleep so that Daddy will take them both to the garden in the evening. Every meal is to be had while watching ‘Wheels on the bus go round and round’ – I can sing this now even when am unconscious. If the song is over before the food, then the various other versions are to be played repeatedly. I haven’t given up though. As soon as he is old enough to listen and understand film songs, I am going to bombard him with Lata Mangeshkar oldies and Mehdi Hassan ghazals. Let’s see if I can turn him over to my generation about songs.

Books are still a favourite though. Every time, he sees me reading, he will pick up one of his books and sit next to me, pretending to read. TV watching is mostly restricted to his lunch time and he has started picking up english words. There’s this one show where the host reads out greeting cards and letters to kids whose parents and relatives have wished them on their birthday. The kiddo promptly starts singing Happy Birthday to you!

Speaking of TV, I have been seeing this ad starring a weather-beaten Jean-Claude Van Damme:

What in the hell is this all about?

He is walking like a penguin and his pants are frozen rock solid??

This is such a perplexing ad, no idea what lager he’s advertising and would it be any good if it freezes his assets?

Solitude, reading and some thoughts..

4 days without computer. 4 whole days without internet..without mail, without Facebook, without blogs, books and all that glittering stuff that stares at us from the tiny laptop screen. Surprisingly, I didn’t have a nervous breakdown. I was quite normal in fact. No doubt I had my nose stuck to my Kindle most of the time but the fact is that I survived. I am a self-proclaimed net addict and am on Facebook and chat most of the day. But having that taken away from me, I realised there are other things to do as well. Most of the clutter was cut down when we had no TV and it was a bliss and now I can spend days without switching it on. But the internet is another thing. You need to stay connected, whatever you interpret from it. It’s not that am constantly chatting with friends or doing something. It’s just that the light should keep bleeping if you know what I mean. I found out it’s a big relief actually to be cut off for some time. The world doesn’t end and you have time to appreciate other things and enjoy the good old solitude.

So in all my solitude I read Kristan Higgins books. What was I waiting for. I realised that I am all for chic-lit novels and am turning out to be a huge Higgins fan. I am hoping to write reviews for these books if I get time from reading the next Higgins book. Have read Too good to be true and Just one of the guys so far and now on the third one – Catch of the day. These books are hilarious, sweet and have characters that very believable and cute. And did I mention that the gals have pets?? and that too dogs? No wonder am lapping them up!

On a serious note, do people underestimate you? If yes, how do you feel? I mean sure it’s fun when you are small and in school when nobody expects anything from us and it’s a great satisfaction when your results turn out quite good because, well nobody expects this from you and it’s nice to stun them with your achievements. But what when you are grown up and feel the need to be taken seriously and when you really want people to listen to what you have to say? Being assertive is one thing but what do you do when people (possibly unknowingly) belittle you by underrating your opinions or ideas over things? What do you do? Tell me!

In need of a challenge

Reading for me has taken a literary turn this year what with me going crazy about classics (Austen and Hardy). I still have a long list of TBR books but thought that it would be nice to read out of my comfort zone and try new authors.

Then came across this post from Smita. And I am all up for it. Given that I have no job and a lot of time to spare, I am hoping it would be easy but let’s see.

South Asian Challenge is hosted by a prolific blogger and reviewer S. Krishna. In this you have to read books about South Asia and by South Asian authors during the calendar year of 2011. If you wish to take up this challenge, go here and read this to know more about it.

Early new year’s resolutions? I’m on! This post officially declares my participation in the challenge.

Thanks Smita for putting this up.